Eating Out with Kids in Paris: A Family-Friendly Guide

In the vibrant heart of the City of Lights, where love and gastronomy intertwine, lies plenty of hidden gems for families seeking extraordinary culinary adventures. Contrary to its reputation as a romantic haven and a gourmand’s paradise, Paris embraces the magic of family dining with open arms. I’m Chef Tris, and I’ve lived in Paris for over a decade with my daughter (currently 5) and a French family full of nieces and nephews. Let me be your local guide as we embark on a delectable journey through the City of Light, where even the smallest foodies can savour the delights of Parisian cuisine. From charming cafes to family-friendly bistros and hidden culinary gems, this guide will unlock the secrets of eating out with kids in Paris, ensuring a stress-free and unforgettable dining experience for the entire family.

Restaurants “en famille” in Paris

My love of French food stems from the restaurants I visited during family holidays with my parents. Eating out en famille is a tradition upheld by the most elegant Parisian families every Sunday. From luxurious Parisian palaces with on-call nannies to pizza restaurants with clowns on Sundays, kids are welcome in most places and rarely cause a problem.

Seasoned travellers of France will attest to the common scene of four generations of a family sitting around long tables for hours, savouring the joy of being and eating together. You’ll notice no phones or teenagers in headphones among French families at the table. While some see French parenting as the gold standard, the romantic vision of well-behaved children sitting for hours at a restaurant is simply because they do it often!

There is an art to travelling with kids and an opportunity to teach them the wonders of French food on your visit. Starting with these tips will set you on the right foot to ensure you have plenty of wonderful restaurant experiences on your visit to Paris.

an illustration of a child eating crepes in paris - one of the tips for eating out with kids in paris

Tips for Eating Out with Kids in Paris

These tips come from many years of living and holidaying with young families in France. If you feel I missed one, or have a great tip to share, I would love to hear it!

1. Choose the Right Style of Restaurant

Paris has over 11,000 restaurants, and the best ones are those that are best for you. As a local and food tour guide, I think the easiest way to navigate the question of helping you find the best restaurants for eating out with your family is to teach a bit about the style of restaurant you should head to. This will ensure you avoid embarrassing restaurant meltdowns that arrive with a hungry little one as you sit at a tiny Parisian table packed with snobby Parisians raising their eyebrows.

It would be overwhelming to assess the quality of every single restaurant in Paris. However, I can provide you with an overview of the various restaurant styles available and their suitability for different meals and age groups of children.

Click for family friendly restaurant styles

Family-Friendly Dining in Paris – Restaurant Styles

Cafe, Brasserie, or Bistro

Style: These establishments mix into each other here in Paris but are all typically casual, lively places that serve traditional French cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.

Suitability: Most are suitable for families with children over the age of 4. They often have highchairs and kids’ menus for your little one.

Food Options: Traditional French fare from a croque monsieur to a cote de boeuf.

FYI: These spots often have a lively ambiance and can be very busy at lunchtime between 12:30 and 14:00. Get there early.

Guinguette

Style: Open-air restaurants located along the banks of the Seine River or in parks or community spaces. They offer a relaxed and festive atmosphere with live music and dancing.

Suitability: Great for families with young children, as they provide plenty of space to run around and play.

Food Options: Often varied, with food trucks and pizza ovens being popular choices.

Restaurant Gastronomic

Style: High-end restaurants offering a refined dining experience with a formal atmosphere and creative, innovative dishes.

Suitability: Best suited for adults or older children who appreciate fine dining.

Cave à Vin

Style: Wine bars that also serve food, typically in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Suitability: Good for adults or older children who enjoy wine and cheese.

Meals: Serve a selection of cheese, charcuterie, and other small plates.

Creperie

Style: Specialize in crepes, offering a casual and relaxed atmosphere, great for meals with friends or family.

Suitability: Affordable and suitable for people of all ages and dietary restrictions.

Food Options: Crepes can be made with various flours and toppings, ensuring something for everyone to enjoy.

Restaurant Rapide

Style: Fast food restaurants offering convenient and affordable options for families with children.

Suitability: Ideal for families with young children who are not interested in a formal dining experience. Includes some of the best Turkish, Lebanese, or Vietnamese food in the world.

For further reading on choosing restaurants in Paris, check out my list of recommended restaurants and tips on choosing restaurants like a local in Paris.

2. Choose the Right Time

Parisian restaurants can get quite busy, especially during peak dining hours. For a more relaxed experience, try to dine early or during off-peak times. Many restaurants open for lunch around 12 PM and for dinner around 7 PM.

3. Look for Outdoor Seating

Outdoor patios and terraces are ideal when dining with kids. They offer more space for kids to move around and are often less formal than indoor seating. Just be mindful of smokers and choose your spot accordingly.

4. Bring Entertainment

While many Parisian restaurants are accommodating to children, it’s always a good idea to bring some entertainment. Small toys, colouring books, or even a tablet (on mute or with headphones) can keep your child occupied while waiting for food. Unlike our experiences traveling elsewhere, do not expect a restaurant in France to have anything for little ones.

5. Be Mindful of the Menu

Avoid restaurants with tasting menus or Michelin-starred establishments if you want a more relaxed dining experience. Instead, opt for casual bistros, brasseries, and cafes where the atmosphere is more laid-back.

6. Kids’ Menus Are Not Always the Best Deal!

These are usually very basic, often featuring burgers, nuggets, and similar items. Instead, we often asked for a small plate and share food with for our daughter, which is perfectly acceptable.

7. Order Kid-Friendly Meals

French cuisine is diverse, and many dishes are child-friendly. Look for items like frites, croque monsieur, steak hache, and more. Don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for recommendations or to modify a dish to suit your child’s taste.

  • Custom Kid’s Meals: Many restaurants are happy to reheat baby food or prepare simple dishes like puree or plain pasta if nothing on the menu suits your child’s tastes.

8. Baby Changing Facilities Are Rare

Paris restaurants often lack baby changing tables due to size constraints. We found that a portable baby changing mat works wonders. I got quite skilled at changing nappies on my knees wherever we went.

9. Manage Meal Stress

Travelling can make kids anxious about food. Explaining where you’re going to eat and what to expect can help alleviate some of their stress. Knowing where their food is coming from can make the experience more enjoyable for them.

10. In an Emergency, Go to the Bakery

Kids that are hungry, tired, or stressed want to know what they are about to eat. What can be better than French bread? Most boulangeries artisanales will offer a few small tables and plenty of reasonably priced options for lunch. Just remember to avoid fake bakeries like Paul or spending €8 on a sandwich.

11. Practise Dining Out

Parisian families are accustomed to dining out, which is why local kids are generally well-behaved in restaurants. It helps to practise eating out at home to get your little ones used to the experience before hitting the Parisian dining scene.

Paris Ginguette Eat Like The French! May 22, 2024

How to Teach your Kids to Eat Like a French Child

French children are known for their sophisticated palates and polite table manners. Here are some tips to help your little ones eat like a French child:

  1. Try Everything: Encourage your child to taste everything on their plate. French children are taught to appreciate a wide variety of foods from an early age.
  2. Eat Slowly and Enjoy: Teach your child to eat slowly and savor each bite. Meals in France are a time for family bonding and enjoying food.
  3. Balanced Meals: French children typically eat balanced meals that include a variety of vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates.
  4. Avoid Snacking: French children usually have set meal times and avoid snacking between meals. This helps them develop a healthy appetite for their main meals.
  5. Polite Table Manners: Teach your child polite table manners, such as saying “please” and “thank you,” and waiting for everyone to be served before starting to eat.
an illustration of a family eating a picnic in paris

Family-Friendly Dining Areas in Paris

If I were visiting Paris with my family, I would avoid staying directly in the centre of Paris, instead opting for the areas where Parisians live and play. An apartment near Place d’Italie or even as far out as Boulogne-Billancourt will offer a tastier and better value experience than a hotel in the 7th arrondissement.

Starting from the centre and working my way out:

Quai de Seine

In warm weather, the guinguettes and cafes along the quai are perfect for families. These riverside spots offer a relaxed atmosphere where kids can play, and parents can enjoy a leisurely meal with a view. It’s a delightful place for a picnic or a casual meal, watching boats drift by on the Seine.

Canal Saint-Martin (10th Arrondissement)

This area is trendy and relaxed, with the picturesque canal providing a beautiful backdrop for walks and picnics. The canal area has plenty of cafes, shops, and green spaces, making it family-friendly and enjoyable. It’s a great spot for a leisurely stroll, and the nearby parks are perfect for kids to play.

Montmartre (18th Arrondissement)

Montmartre offers a village-like atmosphere with its artistic history and quaint streets. While it can be a bit hilly, it’s filled with charming cafes, small parks, and interesting sights like the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It’s a picturesque area that families often enjoy, with plenty of places to sit and relax.

Place d’Italie (13th Arrondissement)

This neighborhood is known for its relaxed, family-friendly vibe. You’ll find numerous cafes and brasseries where local families dine regularly. The 13th is especially known for its Asian cuisine, offering a variety of delicious options. It’s a great place to explore different culinary delights with your kids.

Buttes-Chaumont (19th Arrondissement)

The 19th arrondissement is another fantastic area for families. It’s home to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, one of the largest green spaces in Paris, which offers ample room for kids to run around and play. The area also features family-friendly cafes and restaurants, making it a great place to spend the day.

Belleville (20th Arrondissement)

The 20th arrondissement is vibrant and diverse, with plenty of parks, playgrounds, and family-friendly dining options. It’s a neighborhood where you can experience the true essence of Parisian daily life, away from the tourist crowds.

Boulogne-Billancourt (Western Suburb)

While technically outside the central Paris area, Boulogne-Billancourt is a great place for families. It’s quieter, has more open spaces, and is very family-friendly. It’s well connected to the city centre via public transport, making it easy to explore Paris while enjoying a more relaxed and spacious environment.

an illustration of a family enjoying a walk through a market in paris

Our Favourite Family-Friendly Restaurants in Paris

If you were to go out for lunch with us and our 5-year-old, we would probably choose a spot from the following shortlist. In no particular order:

1. L’Île

A lovely restaurant with a beautiful setting and a menu that caters to both adults and kids. It’s perfect for a swankey family meal. This is not cheap, nor is it that mind blowing but as they have a entertainer for kids on a sunday lunch time, we enjoy it!

2. Tanguy

One of our favourite creperies in the center of town, this is a regular for many that visit us here in Paris.

3. Ground Control

An eclectic space with various food options, including street food and sit-down meals. It’s a fun, family-friendly environment with plenty of space for kids to explore.

4. Rosa Bonheur (Vincennes or Javel)

Located in the beautiful Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Rosa Bonheur is a favourite among families. This guinguette offers a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of space for kids to play. The menu is simple yet delicious, featuring pizzas and other kid-friendly options.

5. La Recyclerie

Built on an old railway track, La Recyclerie is not only eco-friendly but also incredibly family-friendly. Located in the 18th arrondissement, this spot offers a unique dining experience with a focus on sustainability. There’s a dedicated play area for kids and plenty of outdoor seating.

We are also fans of pizza restaurants, sushi trains, pubs, burger bars, and Vietnamese noodle spots.

Final Thoughts

Eating out with kids in Paris can be a delightful experience. The city is surprisingly kid-friendly, with many restaurants and cafes welcoming families with open arms. By choosing the right spots and following a few simple tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable dining experience for both you and your little ones. Bon appétit!

For more tips and detailed guides on family dining and other culinary adventures in Paris, visit eatlikethefrench.com.

If you are looking for a Food Tour Guide in Paris, check out our bespoke family food tours in Paris.

Chef Tris Portrait Eat Like The French! May 22, 2024
Food Tour Guide
From the bustling streets of Paris to the quiet moments at home, my journey is one of passion, resilience, and a deep love for French cuisine. As Chef Tris, my transformation from a culinary expert and tech recruiter to a local food tour guide in Paris has been a delicious turn of events, blending my professional skills with my personal story of renewal.

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